We were driving to my dad’s house the other evening for a quick outdoor visit and some ice cream cake for no reason.
(He hadn’t even read my last column yet! Maybe he just knew it was a surefire way to get us over for a visit, I don’t know, but it was a lovely time regardless.)
It took a little doing, which was weird because we were going somewhere to eat ice cream cake and what kid wants to delay that? Eventually we got everybody into the car and buckled up and underway. It is a five minute drive but let me tell you it took us much longer than that to get ready to go. One or more shoes may have been left at home.
Anyway, as we were motoring along, up ahead in the middle of the street sat a dove and I pointed it out as we approached, noting that it better get a move on or else we’d run it over.
“Get outta the way you silly bird,” I said aloud. “Move on over!”
As a general rule, my husband and I don’t care much for doves. There used to be a pair that hung out on the power lines above our old house and they loved to talk to each other non-stop. It wasn’t cute or beautiful, it was incessant and annoying. They’ve ruined the entire dove population for us. If you like them, great! Take them all!
Moving on, as we drew near the street-sitting dove, a crow swooped down, startling the dove and one took off after the other through somebody’s yard and to wherever quarreling birds go. Disaster averted. Well, in terms of us running the dove over anyway. I don’t know how the birds settled their beef. My guess isn’t rock-paper-scissors. That would be hard for birds.
As we carried on down the road, my husband started laughing and said the dove in the middle of the road reminded him of his 11th Grade school trip to France.
“Did you see the Eiffel Tower?” the kids asked, excitedly. (You may remember their love of the Eiffel Tower and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa from a previous column.)
“Yep! But we were only in Paris for three days,” he replied. “The rest of the time we were in Montpellier. But what I’m remembering happened in Paris.”
My darling husband then went on to relay a story of a particularly unpleasant incident they had while on a tour bus with his class as they were inching along in traffic on some unknown Parisian street. (I’m sure it had a name, he just didn’t remember it). Similar to the dove we’d just avoided running over, he explained that up ahead of their tour bus was a pigeon smack dab in the middle of their path.
Traffic was tight and slow, but steadily moving.
“The driver slowed down as much as he possibly could,” my husband explained.
The bus inched closer but the bird didn’t move. The bus inched closer still and the bird didn’t move. (Yes, it was a real living bird.) The bus inched closer even still and the bird simply refused to move.
My husband plainly noted that ultimately the driver was powerless in the situation and was unable to avoid the bird, and as such, the bird was killed by the bus’s tire.
The kids went into all sorts of detail about what that might have looked like and sounded like and as sad as the overall situation was, they came up with some pretty funny explanations. I mean, we were laughing so hard that when we arrived at my dad’s house I had to take some notes so that I could remember what to write about in this space later. Even so, we debated how I should explain in my column what had happened that fateful day in Paris a very long time ago.
“Write ‘CRUNCH!'” suggested my youngest.
“No, no. Say ‘Snap, crackle, pop'” offered my eldest.
Awful, hilarious, and inappropriate all at the same time.
Speaking of France, we’ve been doing a lot of reading at home because that’s what you do with a first grader around and so we’ve had to explain that all Canadian labels have English and French languages on them. As their dad spent half of his education in French Immersion, he’s able to help the kids read the French parts and being the quick learners they are, they’ve picked up the odd word here and there. It came in handy on that drive to my dad’s place.
“Ne squishez pas!” offered my husband.
“Ne squishez pas!” echoed our children.
(And that, my dear readers, is how you teach your children terrible French.)
We are often blunt with our kids about life and death and nature and the consequences of poor decisions. This is life. Life is short. Don’t do dumb things like stand in front of a bus.
Life lessons over for the evening, our conversation returned to the pending ice cream cake, then back to travel, France, and specifically, back to my husband’s class trip.
“We saw a lot of pretty cool stuff,” he said, thinking of the art and the architecture and whatnot.
“Yeah,” my daughter chimed in.
“Like a flat pigeon!”